Photo credit: Complete Streets on Flickr
In 2011, Lansing enacted an ordinance known as, 'Complete Streets'. The goal of the law is to encourage the city to build transportation infrastructure that accommodates bicyclists, pedestrians, public transportation passengers, and users of all ages and abilities.
The Complete Streets movement stems from the idea that transportation systems should cater to all road users. The last fifty years have seen the prioritization of motor vehicle traffic to the detriment of pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users. Consider this image:
Photo credit: Lansing Bicycle Press
This is Cedar Street at Holmes. Four lanes of fast-moving traffic in wide lanes, no curb island in the center for refuge, and the cross walks can be a quarter mile away. The trees have been cleared from intersections to increase sight lines and speed at the cost of beauty. It is basically a highway through the city. Contrast the first image with this:
Photo credit: Smart Growth America
This is Hamburg, New York. This road probably once had four travel lanes for cars but has been redesigned using Complete Street design principles.
- Only two travel lanes: no lane changing or passing
- Narrow lanes slow traffic down
- The curb jogs out at intersections to provide pedestrians more safe area from traffic
- Bike lanes are wide and distinguished using a colored surface treatment
- Trees (albeit many small ones) line the street
This street invites you to stop and take a stroll, or to live nearby. Not so much for streets like Cedar. Many cities throughout the country and across the world have embraced the Complete Streets movement. 'Vital Streets' in the Grand Rapids version that incorporates the economic advantages of building and maintaining a transportation system for all users. Many cities across the country that have seen population increases recently have acted to implement Complete Street concepts throughout their city (Grand Rapids is a great Michigan example).
The Lansing law targets that five percent of all transportation funding from the state should be used to implement the Non-motorized plan that the law requires the city to develop. Any future construction or re-construction of a right-of-way must follow the guidelines in the Non-motorized plan, given financial constraints. The city will be updating the Non-motorized plan this year in accordance with the law and is looking for citizen input.
We will be organizing events to discuss the plan update and how bicyclists can help. Stay tuned for details.
Interested in learning more, check out these links:
Lansing Complete Streets ordinance
Lansing Master Plan page
National Complete Streets Coalition